Beaching of a ship refers to the intentional grounding of a vessel on a beach or shore. It is a process that involves running a ship aground, which means intentionally steering the vessel onto a beach or shallow area of the sea, allowing it to rest on the seabed. This process is commonly used as a way of dismantling, repairing, or scrapping a ship, and it is also used in emergency situations to save a damaged ship.

Beaching of a ship has been a common practice since ancient times, and it is still used today. In the past, ships were run aground on the shore to unload cargo, carry out repairs, or even to build a new ship. However, this practice is now mostly used for ship-breaking, which is the process of dismantling a ship for its metal and other reusable parts.

Do Master Intentionally Beach a Ship? and Why?

One of the many tough decisions sometimes required to be taken by shipmasters is deliberately grounding a ship, an act referred to as “beaching”. It is a tough decision because a shipmaster at that time, for safety or commercial reasons, has to take the decision to beach a ship – run his ship aground, an act that he has been trained throughout his career to prevent.

When a ship is beached, it is essential to ensure that the vessel is in a safe and stable condition. This involves checking the condition of the hull, the position of the vessel, the strength of the tide, and the condition of the seabed. The safety of the crew and other workers involved in the operation is also a top priority.

The beached vessel can be secured using a variety of methods, including the use of anchors, chains, and mooring lines. Once the ship is safely secured, the work of dismantling or repairing the vessel can begin.

Ship-breaking is the most common use of beaching today. When a ship reaches the end of its life, it is often sold to a ship-breaking yard. The ship-breaking process involves dismantling the ship and salvaging all the valuable materials, including the steel, copper, and other metals. The process is hazardous and labor-intensive, and it involves cutting the ship into small pieces.

Ship-breaking is a significant industry in many countries, and it has generated a lot of controversy in recent years. The process can have severe environmental and social impacts, particularly in developing countries, where many ship-breaking yards operate with poor safety standards and environmental regulations. The work can also be dangerous for the workers involved, as they are often exposed to toxic substances, such as asbestos and lead.

Another use of beaching is in emergency situations. If a ship is damaged or in danger of sinking, beaching the vessel can be a way of saving the ship and its crew. In this situation, the ship is intentionally grounded on a beach or shallow area of the sea, which allows the crew to evacuate the vessel safely.

Beaching a ship in an emergency situation requires careful planning and execution. The vessel must be grounded in a safe and stable location, and the crew must be evacuated quickly and safely. Once the ship is beached, it can be repaired or salvaged if possible.

The process of Beaching A Ship – How to beach a Ship

 Once the decision has been made to beach the ship, a suitable place should be selected.  The most suitable would be a sheltered, gently shelving beach comprising sand or gravel with little or no rocks. If such a decision is taken then the following should be considered:

  • If time and prevailing circumstances permit take in full ballast so as to make refloating easier.
  • Beaching should not be done on the high tide but rather midway between high and low tide on a falling tide. Beaching on a rising tide runs the possibility of being pushed further up the beach when the tide rises.
  • Approach the beach at right angles making due allowance for wind and tide.
  • Lay out anchors and cables at the proper positions to help prevent the vessel from being turned parallel to the beach.
  • Keep enough steerageway on the vessel to prevent drift of the seaward end of the ship
  • Once the vessel touches the ground keep engines running a little bit to run the vessel firmly aground.
  • Take in extra ballast to ensure the vessel will stay firmly aground to avoid pounding in the surf.

Why Do Ships Beach?

Ships beach for a variety of reasons, including bad weather, mechanical problems, and even deliberate actions by the crew. In some cases, beaching a ship can be the best option to avoid a more serious disaster. For example, if a ship is in danger of sinking, beaching it can be a way to prevent it from going down with all hands lost.

Of course, beaching a ship is not without its risks. The ship can be damaged by the waves and it can be difficult to get it off the beach once it’s stranded. But in some cases, beaching a ship is the best option available.

Beaching is usually the result of a captain intentionally running aground to prevent his ship from sinking or being dashed to pieces on rocks or reefs. Sometimes, beaching is the best option when a ship is leaking badly and the pumps can’t cope with the ingress of water.

To prevent the vessel from foundering the master might decide to beach the ship in order to make repairs. Other times, beaching may be the only way to escape a dangerous situation, such as a storm or collision.

What Are The Advantages Of Beaching A Ship?

Beaching a ship has a number of advantages. First, it allows for easy and safe access to the hull of the ship for inspection and repairs. During an emergency when the vessel is in danger of foundering in deep water, beaching allows for time to do a proper inspection to ascertain the damage and safely carry out required repairs, even temporary in order to continue the voyage.

Second, beaching a ship can provide a measure of protection from bad weather and rough seas. When a ship encounters bad weather and it does not have adequate power to withstand it, firmly putting the vessel aground and taking on ballast to stay firmly aground might prevent the vessel from being blown onto rocks or dangerous shore where it might rather end up as a wreck/

Finally, beaching a ship can help to reduce wear and tear on the hull by preventing it from coming into contact with rocks and other underwater obstacles.

Also Read Why Knock Nevis was Scrapped – The death of Seawise Giant

The Disadvantages Of Beaching A Ship

Beaching a ship is a process in which a vessel is intentionally grounded on a beach in order to clean, repair, or refloat it. While beaching a ship can be a useful technique in some situations, it also has a number of disadvantages.

The most obvious disadvantage of beaching a ship is the potential damage that can be done to the vessel. If the ship is not properly supported, the waves can quickly erode the hull, causing the vessel to leak or even sink. Beaching a ship can also cause damage to the propellers and other underwater components.

In addition to the potential damage to the ship, beaching a vessel can also be dangerous for the crew. If the ship is not properly secured, it can roll over, trapping and potentially injuring the crew members.

Accidents relating to Beaching of Ships

Intentional beaching of ships, also known as ship breaking or ship demolition, is a practice in which ships are deliberately grounded onto beaches or shores in order to dismantle them for scrap metal or other parts.

While this practice can be done in a safe and environmentally friendly manner, there have been instances where it has resulted in accidents and negative consequences. Here are some notable incidents involving intentional beaching:

Gadani ship-breaking yard accidents

The Gadani ship-breaking yard is located in Pakistan and is one of the largest ship-breaking yards in the world. In November 2016, a fire broke out at the yard, resulting in the deaths of at least 26 workers. This incident highlighted the dangerous working conditions that workers in the ship-breaking industry face.

The Prestige oil spill

The Prestige was a Liberian-flagged oil tanker that was intentionally beached off the coast of Spain in November 2002 after suffering a crack in its hull. The decision to beach the ship was made to prevent the release of oil into the open sea. However, the ship eventually broke apart and caused a massive oil spill, which devastated the local marine environment and fishing industry.

The ship-breaking industry in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is another major destination for ship-breaking, with a significant portion of the world’s ships being dismantled there. However, the industry has faced criticism for its unsafe working conditions and environmental impact. In 2020, a major accident occurred at a ship-breaking yard in Bangladesh, resulting in the deaths of at least seven workers.

In the end,

Beaching of a ship is a process that involves intentionally running a vessel aground on a beach or shallow area of the sea.

This process is commonly used for ship-breaking, repair, and salvage operations. It is also used in emergency situations to save a damaged ship. While beaching can be a useful and practical process, it also has significant environmental and social impacts, particularly in developing countries.

Therefore, it is essential to ensure that beaching is carried out with the utmost care and attention to safety and environmental standards.

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